On September 11, 2001, I woke up at 5:45 am local time in Tucson, Arizona where I was stationed at the Davis-Monthan Air Force base. I remember turning on the television and seeing that the first tower was on fire. As the second tower burst into flames, I realized we were under attack.
I raced to the base and yelled at the gate guard, “We are under attack!” Immediately, we went into lockdown. At the time, I was a key advisor and personal assistant to a three-star General who controlled all combat Air Force bases west of the Mississippi River, including Offutt Air Force Base. It was a moment I will never forget as the General put all bases on alert and fighter planes in place. His composure was cool, calm, and collected during a time of complete uncertainty and fear.
When I saw the president’s address later that day, I cried. I knew the world had changed.
September 11, 2001 altered the next 13 years for me in the Air Force. I was deployed twice after 9/11 and spent my career fighting, prepping, and working on the strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was preparing my Airmen to fight for freedom, opportunity, and all America represents. The nation was overcome by a sense of unity. We were attacked and we were going to fight back. My hope was, and still is, that Islamic extremism collapses just as the Soviet Union collapsed in the late eighties.
But, our military was better funded and equipped during that time. With the recent approval of the NDAA, we will restore our military preparedness. We will ensure that our equipment is up to date and that our planes can fly. We will ensure our men and women in uniform are properly trained and have the support they need to complete their missions. We will ensure there is not another 9/11.
In today’s political culture, we cannot forget we have more to be united about than divided. 16 years ago, our country came together as one unified voice. We are Americans first, no matter our differences of political ideologies. I hope everyone takes a moment today to reflect on the lives we lost 16 years ago, the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coast Guard men who made the ultimate sacrifice, and our men and women in uniform who continue to serve today.